Asheville for All
Asheville is one of those places. Somehow, you want to recommend it to pretty much anyone and everyone.
“Oh, you like hiking? Have you been to Asheville?”
“Oh, you like beer? Have you been to Asheville?”
“Oh, you like books? Have you been to Asheville?”
“Oh, you’re really into being a vegan? Have you been to Asheville?”
“Oh, you’re have an existential crisis and want to be away from humanity but not like, too far away just in case? Have you been to Asheville?”
Well, that covers most of my family at least.
Asheville, NC is by no means “a hidden gem” - it’s been a tourist destination since the 1880s, when that pesky Civil War calmed down and trains became the hot new thing. In 1889 William Vanderbilt built Biltmore (tongue-twister, much?), an extravagant mansion that remains the largest private residence ever built in the United States and is now a fancy hotel with grounds open to the public (for a price). Asheville was also a popular destination for a different group of folks - it was believed to be a beneficial climate for the treatment of tuberculosis and hosted several TB sanatoriums. In 1911, patent-medicine millionaire Edwin Wiley Grove discovered Asheville during his quest to treat his ongoing, “extreme hiccups.” As rich people are want to do, he decided to open a huge resort there - the Omni Grove Park Inn. The city continued growing until the 1930s, when that much-regrettable Great Depression happened and, strangely, people started feeling differently about 178,926 square feet Gilded Age mansions. This period of stagnation, which lasted until the late 1980s, kept much of Asheville’s Gilded Age and Art Deco architecture intact, making it a bit of a time capsule in the mountains.
To me, Asheville is a perfect multi-purpose destination.
1) For wellness seekers
Asheville has shifted its wellness focus from TB sanatoriums to the crunchier field of yoga studios, vegan cafes, and spas. Try out:
The Asheville Yoga Festival, held in late July, to just be absolutely surrounded by balance-seekers.
Om Sanctuary, a yoga retreat just a bit out of town.
The Asheville Salt Cave, because I always thought I’d taste better with just a little salting.
All of these restaurants
For a writer’s retreat
Asheville is a great place to be surrounded by creative people - with the option to completely hide away from those people as well. As such, great place to get some writing done.
Search around AirBnB for some great cabin options a little bit off the main road. I love this creek-side cabin in nearby Burnsville - you might get a little lost searching for it as cell service is spotty, but I would live on their screened deck for the rest of my life if I could. Downtown Asheville is about 20 minutes away - close enough for adventures, far enough away not to be a distraction.
World Coffee Cafe and Skybar for superb caffeine and people-watching.
Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe, because #yesplease.
And the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, for when your writing needs a little sugar kick as well.
For a weekend with friends:
Whether your group is the outdoorsy-type or the never-go-outdoorsy type, there’s plenty of options.
Asheville Glamping offers a huge range of unique stays, from the down-to-earth Yurt to the galaxy-exploring.
In nearby Hendersonville, The Woodds offers private, group, and semi-private campsites and easy access to…
Chimney Rock State Park, which can get pretty busy but is also a ridiculously gorgeous park to hike around (make sure you’ve been doing your squats though…lots of uphill work here).
Finish up any night at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, because this is the combination you have been waiting your whole life for.
Ok ya’ll, I know that’s just skimming the surface. What would you add?